The U.S. is beginning to see a worrisome coronavirus spike again. According to data compiled by John Hopkins University and analyzed by CNBC, new COVID-19 cases are up more than 14% compared to last week. That’s nearly 50,000 new cases a day over the last week.
“I think we’re facing a whole lot of trouble,” Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, told The News with Shepard Smith on Monday.
In addition to having a “baseline” of infections between 40,000 and 50,000 per day, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people who test positive for the virus, which Dr. Fauci said is “always a predictor of more cases and ultimately more hospitalizations and ultimately more death.”
“We’ve got to turn this around,” he said.
The good news: There are five simple things that every person in this country can do that would drastically improve our coronavirus case numbers. “We’re not talking about shutting down the country,” Dr. Fauci said. “We’re talking about prudent, careful, serious public health considerations.”
Those public health measures will likely sound familiar. While some of them may be tough to adopt due to specific circumstances in your life—like if you have to work indoors at a restaurant to make your living—it’s good to stick to these five COVID-19 prevention steps as often as you can.
1. Wear a mask.
As SELF previously reported, there’s evidence that areas where masks are required have better control over their COVID-19 cases, and that when 50 to 80% of the population wears them, masks are more effective than physical distancing on its own.
Now is a good time to stock up on cloth face masks, both for social settings and for exercising. We’re going to be wearing them for a while—even after we get a vaccine, according to Dr. Fauci. Make sure they fit—there’s a handy trick to get them snugly against your face.
2. Maintain physical distance with people outside your household.
Physical distancing, also known as social distancing, is crucial to limit community spread, as SELF previously reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend a minimum of six feet between you and people you don’t live with. (And since the CDC admitted the virus can spread even farther than that, the more distance between you and people you don’t live with, the better.)
3. Avoid crowds.
Crowds and large gatherings can quickly become superspreader events, especially when people aren’t taking basic safety precautions like consistently wearing masks. Case in point: the White House’s Rose Garden event celebrating the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. More than 200 guests (many unmasked) gathered at the event in September, which took place both indoors (where coronavirus is more likely to spread) and outdoors, per the New York Times. Now, more than two dozen people have tested positive in a White House COVID-19 outbreak, and Dr. Fauci has classified the Rose Garden gathering as a superspreader event. While there are no reported deaths yet in connection to the White House superspreader event, we can’t say the same of other superspreaders. As SELF previously reported, an early August wedding reception in Maine with 65 people led to an outbreak of COVID-19. Now, more than 170 COVID-19 cases are linked to the event, and seven people who got COVID-19 because of this superspreader wedding have died—none of whom had attended the wedding themselves.
4. Don’t spend time indoors with people you don’t live with.
As Dr. Fauci previously stated, certain indoor venues have consistently proven to be coronavirus hotbeds: gyms, bars, and restaurants. That’s partly because they’re indoors and good ventilation helps stop the spread of the virus, and also because you’re less likely to wear a mask when you’re eating, drinking, and exercising, as SELF previously explained.Avoiding spending time indoors with people you don’t live with might be really tough as the weather gets colder for many in the U.S. and outdoor, socially distanced gatherings are no longer feasible. Try to prepare mentally for a pandemic winter, think about how you’ll still get that much-needed social connection, and look after yourself if you’ll have to be stuck at home more often.
5. Wash your hands well and often.
Because it helps prevent the spread of new coronavirus, and it’s the sanitary thing to do anyway. Here’s how to wash your hands the right way. And yes, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute when it’s not possible to wash your hands—but washing your hands is best whenever possible.
“Those simple things, as simple as they sound, can certainly turn around the spikes that we see and can prevent new spikes from occurring,” Dr. Fauci told Smith. “We just need to hunker down and do that.”